For the third time in less than two years, the New York agency was ordered back to its storyboards. While no one contends Y&R is at risk of losing the account, some insiders said the agency must come up with a campaign with broad appeal.
"They were told to make a spot that will please and inspire the general population," said George Kalil, president of Kalil Bottling Co., a 7 UP bottler. "I just wish September was next week."
EDGY ADS FELL FLAT
The decision to switch ad approaches comes less than six months after Cadbury Schweppes' Dr Pepper/Seven Up unit launched a $40 million effort that attempted an edgy image for the 70-year-old brand.
The work, narrowly targeted to consumers ages 12 to 24, was never a hit with many 7 UP bottlers and failed to help lift sales.
That campaign, which kicked off during the Super Bowl in January and runs through the summer, portrays hip teens unmoved by an evil "syndicate" that wants to control their purchasing behavior. The commercials ask, "Are U an Un?"
The creative now under development for fall, previewed for a bottlers' committee earlier this month, includes scenes of young people using outrageous sales approaches to peddle the soda, according to one person who attended.
A company spokesman insisted Dr Pepper/Seven Up always had planned to change the campaign.
"It had been envisioned to run until we saw that it was making an impact," he said, adding that it met its goal of heightening brand awareness among the target group.
A fall debut for new advertising is unusual for the marketer. For the past two years, it has unveiled new campaigns in January. The company spokesman contended the shift is intended as a "running start" at the year 2000.
Advertising is just one of the challenges the brand faces. Among the others are the continuing strength of Coca-Cola Co.'s Sprite and the power of that rival's bottling system in winning space on store shelves and in coolers.
Coca-Cola is the leading U.S. beverage company, with a 44.5% share of the $56.3 soft-drink market. Dr Pepper/Seven Up, with a 14.4% share, ranks a distant third behind Pepsi-Cola Co., at 31.4%. Sprite sales surged nearly 10% in the first three months, while 7 UP's were flat.
Through March, 7 UP received $19.2 million in measured media support, according to Competitive Media Reporting, vs. Sprite's $11.9 million.
Coca-Cola broke a new effort for Sprite on June 17, via Burrell Communications Group, Chicago. The campaign, dubbed "Five Deadly Women," combines hip-hop music with martial arts and features five female hip-hop celebrities. It continues the brand's long-running theme, "Obey your thirst."
Several 7 UP bottlers said they're in favor of a change.
"There was total unanimity that [the ads] were out of focus and [the company] chose not to listen," said one executive with a 7 UP bottler, who disliked the "Are U an Un?" campaign when it was previewed internally last fall.
Mr. Kalil also applauded the change to a broader appeal.
"I'm a generalist. I believe we have a lot of friends out there who love 7 UP and we need to advertise to them," he said. "They are an integral part of our